Around 300 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel returned to Devonport Naval Base on board HMNZS CANTERBURY after a seven-week humanitarian aid operation in Fiji.
21 April 2016
Around 300 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel returned this afternoon from a seven-week humanitarian aid operation in Fiji, where they helped deliver hundreds of tonnes of life-saving aid supplies to remote communities devastated by Cyclone Winston.
“Our people, supported by our ships and aircraft, made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s multi-agency assistance to Fiji and helped strengthen longstanding ties with a Pacific neighbour,” said Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
“Through their efforts and those of other New Zealand agencies, it was a successful mission and I’d like to recognise each member’s contribution to its success.”
The NZDF contingent sailed back to Auckland on board multi-role vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY, which served as the maritime hub of New Zealand’s aid operation in Fiji’s northern outlying islands.
The NZDF deployed about 530 personnel, two ships, and seven aircraft to Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck the Pacific nation on February 20, killing at least 44 people and displacing about 45 percent of the population.
Around 150 combat engineers, tradesmen, plant operators, specialists in environmental health and logistics, and medical personnel from the New Zealand Army and a 55-member detachment from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squadron also supported one of the NZDF’s largest peacetime deployments to the Pacific.
“While the task of rebuilding will take years to complete, the Fiji government and public have recognised our people’s contribution to the international effort to get Fijian communities back on their feet.
HMNZS CANTERBURY and offshore patrol vessel HMNZS WELLINGTON carried almost 500 tonnes of aid supplies and construction materials for distressed communities in Yacata and Vanuabalavu islands in northern Lau. As well as repairing schools and community buildings, New Zealand Army engineers also set up a water desalination station that produced up to 10,000 litres of drinking water to support the New Zealand contingent and villages on Vanuabalavu Island.
MAJGEN Gall said the Fiji mission also proved that the RNZAF’s NH90 helicopters were a strong enabler for humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. The helicopters flew about 160 hours of relief missions that spanned from the northern Lau archipelago, about 290 kilometres to the east of the Fijian capital of Suva, to the Yasawa islands, which make up Fiji’s western border.
“On their first overseas mission, our NH90 helicopters provided a critical link between the main population centres and the remote communities devastated by the cyclone,” said MAJGEN Gall.
Led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the humanitarian aid operation also involved New Zealand medical volunteers and the New Zealand Fire Service’s Urban Search and Rescue Team. The NZDF worked alongside the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, the Australian Defence Force, and the French military in delivering aid to affected areas.
Attached is a fact sheet about the NZDF’s support and below is a link to B-roll footage of personnel on the ground in Fiji.
Op Pacific Relief Factsheet
For further information, please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980